16th Sunday in Ordinary Time
July 20, 2014 – Year A
Readings: Wis 12:13, 16-19; Psalm 86; Rom 8:26-27; Mt 13:24-43
by Rev. Salvador Añonuevo, Pastor
About 6 and a half years ago, there was a young man in Maryland who was trying to get in touch with a young lady that he met a few days before. He thought he got her on Facebook and began chatting with her. It turned out she was a different person. Of course, she wasn’t too happy with this at the beginning, but she gave him a chance to explain himself and the way he describes it, it fit the description of Psalm 86. She was “slow to anger, abounding in love and truth, and forgiving.” Because of that, they were able to start a conversation. They introduced themselves and realized they had a lot of things in common. They connected instantly. They chatted on Facebook from 6:00 in the evening until 4:00 in the morning. That’s 10 hours – and they had just met online for the first time!
I really don’t know what happened after that, but yesterday they got married here at Holy Name of Mary. They came all the way from Maryland because the bride is a professional wedding planner. She has been planning weddings in Maryland and Washington, D.C. for years. She wanted a beautiful church and went around the area and thought Holy Name of Mary is a perfect church. It was a great honor for us to have them here and we pray that they will live happily ever after. For a wedding that has been 6 and a half years in the making, I would say chances are great, but of course we can only rely on God’s help. They started by being forgiving and slow to anger. This is not only the message of today’s psalm, but today’s first reading which is taken from the book of Wisdom, and the gospel of the parable of the wheat and the weeds.
As we all know, weeds can never become wheat, but a bad person can always become good, because we have a good and forgiving God. As I was flipping the TV channels, I noticed a young Christian man singing a song called, “The God of Second Chances.” Our God is not only the God of 2nd chances, but of 3rd and 4th chances and so on. Peter asked our Lord, “How many times must I forgive my brother? Seven times?” Our Lord Jesus said, “No, I am not telling you 7 times, but 7 times 70.” This is 490 times, but it doesn’t mean 490, because number 7 in Hebrew is a sign of infinity. It denotes infinity or eternity. There is no end to forgiveness because this is who our Lord and God is. His mercy is infinite. There is no end to his forgiving love. It may be not as easy as it sounds, but it can be done. There are thousands of examples of those who have not been good followers of the teaching of the gospel for much of their lives, but then suddenly, they were able to see the light – that the only thing we need to experience joy is to be with God.
This was the realization of St. Augustine. He didn’t know that all those years he was actually seeking God. He had been trying to fulfill his dreams and be happy with all sorts of worldly things, only to find himself miserable in the end. He was only able to experience true happiness when he found God. Even after he found him, he knew it was still a constant struggle. We have to renew our commitment to Christ every single day. But we have a good and forgiving God. And this same God is also asking us to be his instrument of peace, his instrument of love, his instrument of forgiveness.
Our Lord promises that even if we dwell in darkness and sin, his hands will save us. He will make the stars of our night and will make the darkness bright. As we sing today’s offertory hymn, which is taken from chapter 6 from the book of the prophet Isaiah, may we always be able to say, “Here I am Lord. I will hold your people in my heart, because I have heard you calling me in the night. I will go Lord, if you lead me.” The book of sacred scriptures promises us that our Lord always will.